Stakeholders from across Berkshire gathered recently to discuss the region’s digital future as CityFibre’s new full-fibre communications infrastructure continues to transform connectivity across the area.
Berkshire business chiefs and stakeholders are urging local businesses to embrace their region’s status as one of the UK’s best-connected locations in a bid to drive digital growth and attract new talent and investment.
The call follows a recent roundtable gathering chaired by alternative infrastructure provider, CityFibre, at which professionals discussed the sub-region’s ambition to grow its profile as one of the UK’s most digital advanced locations, and how Berkshire’s full-fibre transformation could contribute to other future goals.
Speakers focused on CityFibre’s investment into Reading, Bracknell, Slough and Maidenhead’s Gigabit City networks, highlighting the role this is playing in underpinning business growth and competitiveness and attracting new start-ups and investment, as well as paving the way for developments such as smart-city infrastructure, public Wi-Fi and 5G deployment.
Nick Gray, City Development Manager at CityFibre, said: “Berkshire is recognised as a leading digital tech hub which boasts a growing economy and excellent transport links to the rest of the UK with more improvements planned. A future-proofed digital infrastructure is set to strengthen the region’s position as one of Europe’s largest tech clusters even further.
“We’ve seen how ultrafast connectivity can transform cities by improving productivity, attracting inward investment and increasing the competitiveness of an area. However businesses and community leaders across the Thames Valley need to act now and invest in full-fibre capabilities to enable the region to maintain its leadership going forward.”
Alongside attendees were business community representatives from across Berkshire, including Tim Smith, MBE, chief executive of Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, who said: “The importance of digital connectivity is now being recognised locally. We’ve been raising the digital floor with strong take up of the Superfast Berkshire programme which aims to provide users with internet speeds of up to 30Mbps.
“Investment in our digital infrastructure has to continue if the area is to not only support business retention, but encourage more firms to consider Berkshire too.”
Bracknell MP, Dr Philip Lee also attended the event and discussed the future impact of technology in the community. Dr Philip Lee said: “Technology will play a huge role in the future of our communities and this is underpinned by connectivity. We need to look to the future and think about how life will adapt and how our business environments will change. For example, connectivity will play a key role in supporting more flexible and remote working practices, which can help organisations overcome the challenges of finding talent and implementing flexible approaches that are conducive to a healthy work-life balance.”
Olu Odeniyi, president and CEO of Maidenhead Chamber of Commerce, highlighted connectivity’s role in attracting inward investment, commenting: “By investing in our digital infrastructure, we’ll send a strong message that we’re a forward-looking location who can always compete with the best-connected locations in the world. I’d like to see more fundamental, state-of-the-art innovations created across the Thames Valley with many more innovative start-ups taking root in the area - future-proofing our digital infrastructure can help us do that.”
Mathew Battle, managing director, Thames Valley Property Forum, said: ““From a property perspective, Berkshire is a great location and we’re seeing more businesses considering investment in the area with Reading, Maidenhead and Slough doing particularly well. Connectivity plays a key role in enticing businesses to the area, and as we continue to see more businesses adopt the likes of shared spaces and flexible working, we can only expect this to continue.”
Since 2016, CityFibre has been working with local telecoms specialist BtL to light up the streets of Slough, Maidenhead, Reading and Bracknell with full fibre networks now spanning 110km across the area. The network is within reach of over 1,000 businesses with a number already connected and experiencing the benefits of ultrafast connectivity.
The network is continuing to expand across the region with Wokingham’s Molly Millars being the latest location to join the gigabit city infrastructure - a direct result of local businesses driving demand.
For more information about CityFibre’s network visit: www.cityfibre.com/connect